by John Flicker, President of Prescott College
Education has been a priority for the residents of Prescott for a very long time. One of Prescott’s first public buildings was a log cabin schoolhouse, a replica of which is located on the grounds of Sharlot Hall Museum.
As leader of the Congregational Church of Prescott, Dr. Charles Franklin Parker envisioned a college for this place in the great tradition of Congregationalist schools including Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), Dartmouth (1769), and Amherst (1863). In the 1950s Dr. Parker began to promote his dream of a “Harvard of the West” which would be named Prescott College.
In March 1962, the Prescott College Founding Fund was established with the goal of raising $1 million. With the slogan “It’s up to you in ’62! To Open the Door in ’64!” Parker and a team of volunteers brought the local community together, raising $1,048,062 in just six months! From the Fanns and Fains to the “girl next door” crowned Miss Prescott College, the people of Prescott pulled together whatever gifts and talents they could offer – monetary gifts; gifts-in-kind, such as a prize calf, mining claims and a concert piano, as well as monetary pledges.
In 1963 Dr. Parker secured a grant from the Ford Foundation that brought 100 leaders in higher education from around the country together to create a vision of a college that would train a new generation of leaders with the skills, moral foundation and vision to promote peace and well-being among the world’s peoples, and with the foresight to attack such looming problems as environmental degradation, poverty, and overpopulation. The result of this symposium was a blueprint for the college of the future, with three core principles that persist in our operations to this day – interdisciplinary curriculum, in-depth mastery of subject matter through hands-on learning and flexible systems to allow self-direction.
Prescott College opened its doors to students for the first time in fall 1966. It has remained a fixture of the local community, currently employing 166 locals, and sharing 50 years of history with its hometown and namesake.
As a private nonprofit institution, Prescott College serves students and the community without direct funding from federal, state or local government. The school is Arizona’s only private nonprofit liberal arts college, dedicated to the ideals of environmental and social justice. Prescott College offers both on-campus and limited-residency deliveries in undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees.
On-campus students live in Prescott while attending classes here and throughout the Southwest. Those enrolled in the limited-residency programs come from all corners of the nation and world, working with local mentors and with Prescott College faculty at a distance.
Today the college is investing in its future. It has grown from a charter class of 80 on-campus undergraduates to a student body closer to 700. In 2009, Prescott College graduated its first class of Ph.D. students in education with a concentration in sustainability education. It is the first college in the country to graduate students in the field.
With the construction of LEED™ Platinum Certified student housing, the addition of an on-campus master’s program in social justice and human rights, and increasingly recognized excellence in the areas of teacher education and mental health counselor training, Prescott College is ready to take leadership roles in building bridges with the community. Prescott.edu